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Showing posts with label marriage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marriage. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

53 Years, Remembering!

Proud parents of the groom.  Ben and Kristen's wedding 2008

              Historical John Wesley Love home in Jacksonville, our home 1981-1982

Another anniversary

Retirement for Joe after 52 years in the oil industry

Recipe box Joe made for me our first Christmas 1964, Corvallis, Oregon

Our 3 little boys and their Gingerbread House 1973

Faith, always.

Reminders of our life in Jakarta, Indonesia (at my talk to the children at Shady Oak Christian School)

Angel and Bella

Our antique rose in the garden on Greenhaven. Getting ready to plant some here.

Tickets from so many performances, games, concerts.

Our wedding group.  December 28, 1963


Our mission statement for our Sugar Land house, working on one for our home with B&K in Richmond.

Homeward Bound.  A magnolia leaf.

Joe and me as Jacob and Rachel, innkeepers for so many years in Experiencing Christmas, FBC Richmond.

Snowflakes we cut for our first Christmas tree in Oregon.

So many happy times in the porch swing together and with our granddaughters.

Today is our 53rd wedding anniversary.  Last night and this morning we mused and remembered all those years ago and the beginning.  Things like what we did the evening before our wedding day (Joe and his best man went to a movie - Spencer's Mountain.  I only remember being at home, tweaking the decorations I made to top our wedding cake, trying on my wedding dress and working out last minute fitting details such as pinning a tea towel around my waist to hold up the heavy train and keep it from sagging!)  It was a happy and exciting time, but I do not remember feeling stressed.

Today, many lovely weddings are planned at least a year in advance, with many decisions and projects involved.  The stress, as well as the cost, can rise to uncomfortable levels.  Someone asked me just this week about the issues involved with having a Christmastime wedding, with so many other things on the calendar, and subsequent years when the anniversary might be eclipsed in all the Christmas celebration. It is true, our anniversary falls 3 days after Christmas and our celebrations have not been lavish (other than the beautiful 50th-anniversary dinner given to us by our family) - but I would not change anything.  I love Christmas - the meaning, the music, the colors, the family gathering. That translates so very well into the marriage celebration.  We decided to have our wedding in October, only a little over 2 months before it happened!  We chose to keep costs to a minimum and meaning to maximum. I made my wedding gown, sewing in between studying for nursing finals, and bringing the last pearls to sew on the lace train for Mother to help. I laugh when I tell you I crafted my pillbox (a la Jacquelyn Kennedy) hat that held my veil from the end of an Oatmeal box, covered in satin and pearls and made a puffy muff to hold my small bouquet.  Bridesmaids wore cranberry faille coat dresses with white organdy collars and carried a single candle with a tiny nosegay of white flowers. We used a bank of green magnolia leaves from a wedding held the day before instead of flower arrangements in the church, and our reception was in the fellowship hall where punch, cake, nuts, and buttermints were on the table. We had no honeymoon, choosing instead to drive back to Oklahoma City in a snow storm the day after a night in a motel in Dallas. We had school for me and a job hunt for Joe to get back to. And it was thrilling and wonderful and the most beautiful time and place and way to get married.

Yes, it makes me smile to think of the beginning, but oh, the memories all through these years.   This is what makes me weep and smile at the same time. The years have brought so much happiness and fullness. Faith, yes. fLove, yes. Friendship, yes. Hard work, yes.  Sad times, yes.  Laughter, oh yes. Three of the finest sons any parents could possibly have. And now the women they chose who are our daughters. Grandchildren, and more love. Pride, yes. Loss, yes.  Stretching, yes.  Tragedy and pain, yes, that too.  Perseverance, without doubt.  Glorious joy, yes.  Contentment, yes. Illness, yes.  Hope, then, and now.

I chose a few random photos that are markers for me of a life and work together, of love.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Ky and Clyde

Ky and Clyde
In the week that leads up to Valentine's Day, I am reflecting about the couples and marriages that have been part of my understanding of love and commitment. Both my maternal and paternal grandparents and my parents had the "until death do us part" kind of marriage.  And since they lived a fairly long time, that meant many years together.

The photograph above is one of the last ones I have of both of them.  It has been stored away for many years, and Joe's scanning project brought it to my attention again.  I am so grateful for these two and their love for me.  I remember Papa's hearty laugh, his toothless grin, the way he bent down low over a small radio to listen to baseball games. I remember Grandma's hands kneading biscuit dough, scattering scraps for the chickens, tucking me into a feather bed, doing fine needlework and quilting, the way she lived out her faith.  Life was not easy for them.  They had few comfortable amenities, and a great deal of heartbreak. But they did their best and shared what they did have. Ky's birthday, February 17(1885), and Clyde's on March 15 (1887) prompt me to think of them with great respect and admiration. They were married in 1905, and were together until Ky's death in 1965, a month short of his 80th birthday.  Clyde lived on for another 12 years, dying in 1977.  Their 60 years of marriage is a tribute to making a life together.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Opal and Gertrude

This photograph taken circa 1930 is an image of a friendship that lasted over 80 years! On the right is my mother, Opal Auntionette Terrell, who married my father,  John William Howard Teal, on December 27, 1931. On the left is Gertrude Mae Burks, who married Herod Bickerstaff on December 4, 1931. These two young women "stood up" for each other at their weddings that December in 1931. But they had been standing up for each other for years before that.  They went to church and school together, both graduating from Bullard High School in 1931. They shared  living in big families on farms with no indoor plumbing, drinking water from a dipper stuck in the well bucket,  learning to cook on wood stoves, learning to iron with flat irons heated on those stoves, writing in their diaries, the giggling of girls, and the satisfaction of working hard,. In those days, school text books were hard to come by. They shared those books, which were called "partner books"  I have one of those books with their names and that designation handwritten inside the book.

Through the years Opal and Gertrude remained close friends. They grew up on farms whose acreage backed up to each other.  There was a small creek with a bridge in between. Mother spoke fondly of the times they would plan to meet at that bridge. I am sure Gertrude was at a party Mother went to when she was a teenager. She told how she had such a good time she was late coming home and as she tip toed down the long front hall of their big white house on the hill in Bullard, she kicked a washpan that had been set outside a bedroom door and woke everyone.  Gertrude shined her patent shoes like Mother did, by rubbing a cold biscuit over the toes!

Best friends for so long, and married in the same month, their married lives began as Gertrude and Herod worked a farm in the sandy soil of East Texas, raising watermelons among other crops.  They had 2 sons and  2 daughters. Opal and Howard moved to Tyler where they both worked in Cameron's Cafeteria and where they lived when I was born in 1940, later moving to New Orleans, LA during WW II  Daddy worked in shipyards. When they came back to Texas, both worked in cafes in Jacksonville and later operated and owned cafes where Daddy was well known for being a wonderful cook.  My sister Janice was born in 1946.  When I left home to start college in 1958, Gertrude and Herod's oldest daughter Nona was my first college roommate!

Both were strong women whose faith was apparent in the way they lived life in their communities, raised their families,and served in their churches. Gertrude was an active member of First Baptist Church Bullard.Opal was a longtime member of First Baptist Church Jacksonville. Both were married for over 50 years.  Howard Teal died in 1982. Herod Bickerstaff died in 1987.  So both women were widows for many years.

 Gertrude was born August 30, 1913 lived in Bullard all her life and died in Jacksonville (less than 15 miles away) on April 15, 2002 after a couageous battle with cancer.  Opal was born October 20, 1913, lived all but 2 years of her life within a 15 mile radius of her childhood home, and  finally left her home in Jacksonville when we moved her near us the same year Gertrude died, 2002.  Often in those last few years, she would tell me she was ready to "go Home."  On that night,  September 21, 2006, as I grieved her loss, I smiled through tears and said,

"She is meeting Gertrude at the bridge."

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Together Again

On January 26, I posted a story titled "Returned Mail"  about a lovely Southern lady named Charlotte who died last year at the age of 98. Last week, her husband died and on February 14,  Paul Parker was buried. They were married for 73 years! When couples who have lived and loved for a very long time die, it often happens that when one of them passes away, the other soon follows.  I am remembering my own paternal grandparents, Tom and Ida Teal,  who died within a week of each other when I was 17.  I like to think that Charlotte was waiting for Paul -  that they are together again. Their love story lives on as we remember them.

Thursday, January 2, 2014


Our sons and their wives gathered family and friends for a lovely celebration of our 50th wedding anniversary. We loved every minute of an evening full of hugs, fond memories, photographs from 50 years of adventure, good food, and gratitude overflowing.  Our friend Aija played violin music and our son Ben quoted this favorite Shakespeare sonnet.  We have so many reminders that we are surrounded by love!

 Sonnet 116           William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O, no! it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
     If this be error and upon me proved,
     I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Opal and Howard

My parents, Opal Auntionette Terrell Teal and John William Howard Teal, photographed on  July 2, 1943
They were married on December 27, 1931. This photograph was taken at the wedding of H.P. and Catherine Terrell.  H. P. was Opal's youngest brother.

November is a month when many focus on gratitude.  For several years, I have kept a daily gratitude journal to use as part of my morning meditation time.  I write down 5 things for which I am thankful.  Some are very small things - a bird at my kitchen window, the way morning light casts a lacy shadow on the wall, a phone call.  I say thank you, too,  for the biggest things in my every day:  God's faithfulness and love, for the way he is working in my family's life.  I give thanks for food and shelter and good hugs from Joe and our sons.  I am grateful for my daughters- in- law, and my granddaughters' laughter.

 I was born on November 14, 1940, so today is my birthday. I am grateful for my parents' life and love which began my life.  Thank you, God, for Opal and Howard Teal.  Thank you, Mother and Daddy, for loving each other and for loving me.  I never doubted for a moment that I was cherished.  Your faith and love and your hard work to provide good things for me continue to sustain me. You live on in me, in your grandsons, and in your great grandchildren.   You are part of everything I ever write down on my gratitude list.

Thursday, October 10, 2013


For my first ever Mother's Day in 1968, Joe bought a gift for me.  When I walked into the kitchen on that Sunday morning, there was our baby son, propped in his infant seat with a tall box beside him. It held an Osterizer blender, the first of several we have used and worn out over the years.  Part of the gift was a small booklet of recipes, which Joe used to choose a breakfast to make for me.  He made French Crepes with a rich orange sauce.  A few weeks ago, I told him I had been thinking about how good those crepes were, so he offered to make them for me again.  Here is the result!  These crepes have a delicious mixed berry sauce, but since then, he has once again made the orange sauce for crepes. He even made them for Jeremy and our granddaughters, Maddie and Jordann, when they were here last weekend.

He decided he wanted a new crepe pan, too, so I think I can look forward to being treated to breakfast again soon. With our 50th wedding anniversary coming soon, I am often asked how you stay married that long.  Treating each other with love and kindness is one of the ways.   I have often said that one of the ways I like to show friends and family they are special to me is by cooking good food for them.  This time I am the one feeling special!  Thank you, Joe!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Most of my garden photographs get posted in my blog . Most of my kitchen stories and recipes get told at .   But this blue pea vine that blooms so profusely at my kitchen window reminds me why I love vines so much: they are quite alot like families.  There is something magical about a climbing vine in a garden. Vines seem to have a mind of their own and grow here and there in many directions - but they need something to cling to or climb on, a support.  Like morning glories and moonflowers, they reach for the strength of a trellis or rail and hang on, blooming and blooming some more.

Families can be like that too. Especially in our marriages,  I think sometimes we are branches of  the vine and at other times we need to be the trellis, offering support for each other's growth and change. As I age, my children help me do things I once could do for myself or for them. So last night, as the blue pea vine peeked in my kitchen window, I cooked a pot of seafood gumbo with my granddaughter's good help while my son hung curtain rods for me and my daughter in law stood on a ladder to change light bulbs. I am thankful for my trellis and glad I can still bloom.  They loved the gumbo.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tea Time

This sweet green teapot was originally used to serve hot tea to diners at Cameron's cafeteria in Tyler, Texas where my mother and father both worked when they married in 1931.  These days it is more often used to hold a couple of cut roses from my garden, but I like it best sitting on my counter, reminding me of my parents, their willingness to work at building a marriage and life (I believe Daddy made $1.50 a week when they got married), and the fact that they kept the little teapot even though the enamel inside is chipped and rusted.  I like the grace of the handle and the spout and the way the lid tips back on a tiny hinge. My shiny red electric teakettle and our Flavia machine which can produce a cup of lemon or peppermint tea in no time with little fuss and bother are convenient and useful, but I doubt either will be around in over 80 years for someone to photograph and write about.  Somehow, I think this one will. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012


I guess the beginning of a new year is a time for thinking about beginnings of all kinds. This little box is a recipe box. Joe painted and decorated it for me for our first Christmas after we were married. It was pretty empty for a long time because I didn't have many recipes. The only thing in the box was a small note pad on which I had written menus and my grocery lists for the first six weeks we were married – our beginning meals! I even kept tabs on how much I spent for groceries – part of our beginning budget!

I enjoyed cooking and learning to make new dishes, but I was definitely a beginner. The little white box was, too. As I collected recipes from friends and family, the box filled until it needed tabs and labels for indexing – the beginning of a large cookbook and recipe collection. I think all these beginnings led to the start of a lifelong love of cooking and joy of hospitality. I am grateful for the beginnings.

I am sure I do not have to tell you - not all beginnings have happy endings. That same Christmas I knitted Joe a green mohair sweater. He was proud of it but the sleeves were twice too long and the yarn (purchased on sale for such a good price!) was so itchy he could not bear to wear it. I still love to knit, and have produced lovely baby shawls, warm capes, and colorful scarves... but I have never tackled another sweater.

Friday, January 6, 2012

I Choose You!

I have so many reasons for loving Christmastide!  Faith and family are intertwined during these days in powerful ways.  As we gather at Christmas and live the days (all twelve!) to Epiphany, today, January 6 - we make choices, year after year.  Clyde Reid's book You Can Choose Christmas is one of a number of books I enjoy reading each year; it lies on a table beside my chair right now. It is true, we can choose Christmas...that choice lies within us. We also make choices in relationships, the most important ones in our marriage and family.  When Joe and I were married on December 28, 1963, the vows we made to each other used some important phrases beginning -" I will" and " I take"  and " I do" that are really saying "I choose.  I choose you."  Since our anniversary always falls in the middle of the week between Christmas and New Year's,  it is always a special time for remembering that choice.  So, last week marked 48 years of saying "I choose you!"

Christmas 1963

I remember a blur of travel, anticipation, last minute preparation.

The memories rush by like scenery from a train window.

family and friends gathering, arms open

happy voices




the color cranberry

boughs of green


gifts in fat boxes with shiny paper

white ribbons

a muff where I hid my hands

a dress I sewed with lace and tiny buttons

Mother's sweet smile

Daddy's shaking hands

chocolate covered cherries under the Christmas tree,

his gift to me each year.

In 1963, he gave me

To a man who said he would love and honor me.

My love gave me my new initials.

1963, the year of my Christmas wedding.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Last night Joe and I were invited by our youngest son, Ben, to share a meal with him and his wife Kristen in their new home. Ben promised to make us one of Kristen's favorite dishes, Leek and Two Cheese Quiche. We brought some homemade gazpacho and an arugula salad. The table was set beautifully, with wedding goblets and a huge bunch of basil from their garden. Just as I was thinking how special they had made our evening, one more realization gave me a smile as well as a tear.

As I picked up my spoon, I recognized a piece of vintage silverplate. Not a fancy pattern, but simple, beautiful, and achingly familiar. We didn't have a lot of fancy kitchenware when I was growing up – no matching pots and pans, no crystal, mostly mismatched plates and bowls and glasses,stainless flatware, miscellaneous plastic and wood handled spoons and serving items. The knives and forks and spoons we used for every day meals were in a shallow drawer on one side of the short kitchen counter. But the spoon I held in my hand was kept with a matched set. This was my mother's silverplate, the pieces she kept in a box she had painted light green to match her kitchen at one point. She had a set of butter yellow china that she kept on a high cabinet shelf. The silverware box sat by itself at the end of the counter. This flatware she pulled out for use for special or holiday meals, or when we had company.

When my mother sold her small house to move into a still smaller apartment, she gave many things to my sister and me, and to her grandchildren, who call her Nana.

She gave Ben the green box. In the years to come he kept the box and its contents on his own kitchen counter. He made Sunday after-church dinners and a Mothers' Day lunch to which Nana was invited.  She noticed his use of her silverware, and bragged on his cooking.  Now, he and Kristen have given the delicately traced knives and forks and spoons a place of honor in a drawer of their beautiful china cabinet. I felt Nana nodding and saw her smile last night as we began to fork bites of Ben's delicious pastry. I know she approved. Her spirit and her spoons continue to bless the gathering of family.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Together, Alone

I enjoy participating in an online reading group.  We take turns leading a book each month.  For July, I am moderating discussion questions for this book.  I bought the book and Susan signed it at a Story Circle Network conference in Austin shortly after it was published.  During my second reading, Together, Alone draws me once again to examine the power of place in my own story.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Eudora Welty said that “One place understood helps us understand all places better.” and “There may come to be new places in our lives that are second spiritual homes closer to us in some ways, perhaps, than our original homes. But the home tie is the blood tie. And had it meant nothing to us, any other place thereafter would have meant less, and we would carry no compass inside ourselves to find home ever, anywhere at all. We would not even guess what we had missed.”

I am grateful for my growing up place, within a family helping me understand people will always be more important than place. Odd, because that family of origin mostly stayed in one place: rural and small town East Texas. Important, because after I left home at 17 for college, so many places would take their turns in becoming the place of home. One brief passage of time the leaving and the return intersected to be called home. I do believe we make our homes where we are, but there are times when we have a more intimate connection with the place of home. My favorite place happened to be at that intersection,one which my family occupied for only slightly more than a year. But I still have pictures of it hanging on my wall and a doll house replica that my grandchildren love. I think each of us would vote it our favorite house.

When my sons were 13, 10, and 8, we bought a 100 year old Victorian house on 3 acres of oaks and magnolias and pecan trees in East Texas. It was in the hometown where both my husband and I grew up, so both his mother and my parents still lived there at that time. There had been some renovation to the house in the 1940's, but not much since, so there was much that was necessary to live there safely and comfortably. We restored, repaired, renovated, and resuscitated in ways we never knew we had any skill for. We stripped the staircases to find tiger oak, pulled up carpet to find lovely wood floors, added wood burning heaters, updated plumbing and electricity and found ways that old houses need you that amazed us. It was a wonderful adventure.

During the time we were there, I did the research and writing necessary to acquire state historical landmark designation for the house, which was built for John Wesley Love in 1904, to house his wife and 13 children. He had 700 acres of peach orchards adjacent to the house, which was built near the railroad tracks. We discovered that my father and uncle had picked peaches in the orchards, and that Joe's Daddy had painted and wallpapered there in the 40's. It has been 26 years since we lived there, but I can still feel the sway of the porch swing and smell the fragrance of the wisteria dripping from the trees. It was work to live there, but it was magic.

The planned changes in my husband's job did not happen, and we knew our boys needed a father at home more than they needed a certain house, but oh, we loved it. Since we went back there for visits to relatives, we went by the house every time, and I cried every time for years!

Strangely, it took another turn of events in our family life for me to honestly say goodbye to it. Over 15 years after we left it, with the house having gone through several owners, it was very expensively refurbished and opened as a venue for receptions and weddings and other events. When my son and his fiancée planned their small wedding, we arranged to have it there. The bride’s dressing room was Sean's old bedroom! The gathering room for guests was our master bedroom. The ceremony was held in front of the fireplace in the parlor where we had celebrated my parents' 50th wedding anniversary in 1982. The wedding was wonderful; the house was grand in her new finery. She didn't need me anymore, and I felt a closure I had been unable to achieve before. Neither Joe nor I have any living relatives there anymore, but I still say hello to the house when go back to our hometown. I can almost see the 3rd story cupola window wink back at me.

I am glad that although a sign now marks it as commercial offices, that place speaks home to me. I am even more glad that after many years and many moves, I am rooted (not root bound) in my present place. I love being at home.

Friday, July 9, 2010

More Blessings

More blessings, in the form of additions and corrections for my previous post, are due to being married for 46 years.  We really do finish each other's sentences and fill in each other's blanks.  Joe remembered Sean Burke well, and reminded me that Dr. Sean Burke was a professor at St. Mary's College in San Antonio. He had a Sunday morning radio program that we liked.  And we agreed that his sign off was always the Irish blessing as sung by The Priests in Armagh Cathedral,  with the ending:  "and may you be in heaven a half hour before the devil knows you're dead!"